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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Alburquerque checked out by Tigers docs after elbow soreness

Al Alburquerque may be back with the team soon.

That team, however, is the Toledo Mud Hens, not the Detroit Tigers.

The relief pitcher’s return from offseason elbow surgery hit a temporary snag after his last rehabilitation outing in Triple-A Toledo, pain in his elbow prompting his Saturday visit to Comerica Park to see the team doctor.

After throwing 45 pitches in 2 2/3 innings — the first time in eight rehab appearances he’d gone two innings or longer — Wednesday on the road against the Syracuse Chiefs, “today I didn’t feel really good,” Alburquerque said.

“The doctor wanted to see me to see if everything was going to be OK,” last year’s rookie sensation said Sunday in the Tigers locker room, when he stopped into visit.

“He saw me today and tell me everything OK. ... Just inflammation. Tight. He wanted to see me and see if everything would be alright. I told the trainer to see what happened.”

That’s a good sign for Alburquerque, who’s trying to come all the way back from a non-displaced stress fracture in the elbow of his throwing arm that required a screw to be inserted in the break. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgical procedure on Dec. 15.

"It was more of a precautionary visit. ... Everything was normal, everything looks fine. His range of motion’s good, his strength’s good. He’s progressing well," said Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand, noting that type of soreness is normal for a guy coming back from Alburquerque's type of injury. "Yeah, absolutely. But you know what? Sometimes the guy needs to be reassured of that, too. So our thinking was, definitely bring him in, and just have the doc take a look at him. It reassured him."

Named the Tigers Rookie of the Year for 2011 by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, Alburquerque was 6-1 with a 1.87 ERA, leading all American League relievers with a .142 batting average against, 13.92 strikeouts per nine innings, and 4.36 hits allowed per nine innings.

He’ll fly to Allentown, Pa., to rejoin the Mud Hens, who are facing the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in a weekend series. 

His appearance in the Tigers clubhouse did give trade acquisition Jeff Baker a chance to introduce himself to the guy he was traded for in 2009, when Baker was with the Rockies and Alburquerque was in the Cubs organization. Upon arriving in Detroit, Baker admitted that former teammates had teased him about "being traded for a city." 

"Yeah, I said hi," Baker laughed.


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